It’s been nearly six weeks since Carmel Clay Schools reopened its classrooms for in-person instruction, and, so far, it hasn’t led to major COVID-19 outbreaks or significant spread on campus.
Since school began Aug. 13, CCS has reported 58 confirmed cases at Carmel High School (with 33 cases reported in the first two weeks), four cases in middle schools and seven cases in elementary schools.
Virtual options are available to all students, with in-person elementary students on campus five days a week and students in middle and high school on a hybrid schedule rotating between in-person and virtual instruction.
At the Sept. 14 school board meeting, Supt. Michael Beresford said educators are prepared to pivot to an all-virtual model at a moment’s notice. But he also said the numbers are positive enough that district officials could consider expanding in-person instruction.
“We’re not seeing a lot of positive COVID cases in the schools,” Beresford said. “It could be a situation where we could bring virtual kids back to school and do school normally, or it could be we stay where we are.”
CCS parents were asked to choose by Sept. 16 whether they want their students to attend in-person or virtually after the first quarter for the remainder of the school year.
Jim Ginder, health education specialist for the Hamilton County Health Dept., said it doesn’t appear that in-person classes are leading to the spread of the disease in the county.
“We’re not seeing COVID being transmitted through the schools,” he said. “It’s usually outside of the school.”
Through contact tracing, health officials have determined that much of the spread is occuring at small events, such as birthday parties, sleepovers and family gatherings. Ginder pointed to state guidelines that recommend creating a social bubble with a few other people but still wearing a mask and social distancing while around them.
He said efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will be key in fall as cooler weather forces people to spend more time indoors.
“We just don’t have good data about the transmission of COVID inside,” Ginder said. “That’s why we still want to do the social distancing. If you’re sick, stay home and make sure you’re washing your hands and (wearing a face covering).”